Updated 26 January 2018

Brave little Kyra fights back against rare cancer

“We were furious. Not with God, but about the situation. It was so unreal. Our world fell apart.”

It was romantic scene on Christmas Day when Brend Burger (28) slipped an engagement ring onto the finger of his beloved Mandi Venter (32).

The smitten couple from Bloemfontein were spending the day with family and friends at a lodge outside the city when Brend proposed to Mandi. Their five-month-old daughter, Kyra, was in the arms of grandmother, Leonie Venter. 

Life seemed exciting to a happy Brend and Mandi, who left shortly afterwards to go on holiday in Mossel Bay, as they discussed their wedding plans for August 2019. Little did they know that within weeks their lives would be turned completely upside down . . .

During their break at the seaside,Kyra had suddenly started screaming hysterically several times, Mandi reveals. 

“We found it strange, so when we were back in Bloemfontein we took her to a paediatrician,” she says.

The paediatrician found a tumour on Kyra’s liver, and on 15 January diagnosed her with a rare stage-four 4F neuroblastoma.

Two days later chemotherapy treatment was started on her.

“When we heard our sunshine child had cancer, Brend and I started crying in the doctor’s office,” Mandi recalls. 

“We were furious. Not with God, but about the situation. It was so unreal. Our world fell apart.”


Kyra is spending three weeks at home before her treatment resumes again. She’ll receive chemotherapy every 21 days over the next eight months.

In the meantime Mandy has resigned her typist’s job at a firm of attorneys in town to look after Kyra full time.

“There’s no way I could allow someone else to look after my child,” she says.


Brend and his twin sister, Juanri, made history in 1989 when they became the first test-tube twins of both sexes to be born in the Free State.

Last year the siblings both became parents to girls when Kyra and her cousin,  Riandi, were born on 15 August. Both babies were born in Theatre 2, albeit in different hospitals in the City of Roses. 


Meanwhile two Bloemfonteiners who didn’t know the family, Doré Maritz and Mari Bantjes, have come to their aid. Last Friday Doré, who’s a financial advisor, set up the Facebook support group, Liefste Kyra, which she now administers. A week after it was set up more than 1 500 people had joined the page.

Mari, who’s studying at the University of the Free State to become a teacher, has started producing bracelets with coloured wooden blocks, which she’s selling for R40 each to raise funds for Kyra’s treatment. Brend also helps with making the bracelets. 

Within days she’d received 200 orders for bracelets, Mari said. “Quite a few people now help me with the bracelets,” she added.

Mandi says her husband and daughter have turned out to be stronger than she and they’re supporting her. “I would’ve fallen apart long ago if it hadn’t been for them. In spite of the treatment Kyra laughs and talks all the time.”